Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Some fresh ideas on digital education

I often find it's the younger generation - digital natives - who are most aware of the opportunities of digital technology. And that’s why I've assembled a group of "young advisors" – talented and inspiring young people shaping our digital society. Last time we met I asked them to put together all their bright ideas. And they've done so, in two fascinating documents: 1. First, their ideas on education. This is an area where digital technology can really transform the landscape: teachers no longer need to be gatekeepers to arcane knowledge, but can be mentors as students explore the knowledge available for all online. That's a very different philosophy calling for a radically different system. But recent research suggests Europe isn't doing so well at responding. Meanwhile, of course, we need to educate people with new 21st century skills – with 90% of jobs needing digital skills and Europe short of nearly one million skilled ICT workers. So take a look at their detailed ideas on how to transform education for the digital age, from the role of teachers and parents to open resources to lifelong learning. 2. And I also asked for their thoughts in other areas too. From copyright to openness and encouraging entrepreneurship. Again they came up with some great stuff– see for yourselves! Anyway, if this sounds interesting to you I suggest you read it direct from them! I'm certainly going to consider those ideas very carefully and take account of them – like for the paper Commissioner Vassilliou and I are working on, "Opening up Education". But I know my young advisers are not the only ones with good ideas – on education or other issues. So I'll ask you, my blog readers, too. What are your views on the ideas they've set out? Where else are we failing to take advantage of digital potential?


  • Dear mrs. Kroes, While I greatly appreciate your initiative, I would like to bring to your attention that neither in the YAGI-advice, nor in your and mrs. Vassiliou's policy document arts or culture are taken into account. Within the context of the development of 21st-century skills this strikes me as odd and even detrimental. While it is true that Europe lags behind in the training of ICT-skilled young professionals, this alone is not the gap we should seek to bridge. The added value of European professionals will reside in the combination of ICT-skills and true creativity. I am convinced that your policy would be helped if you would follow the lead of the American Congress' resolution #51 and widen your focus from STEM to STEAM, adding art and design as necessery elements in the education of the future generation on Europeans. Best wishes, Edwin van Meerkerk
  • Dear Edwin speaking personally as an observer and part of the Yagi, the focus is truly on digital, not solving every problem in the world, although we believe digital natives can also solve many of our nation's problems. I do take your point about creativity, and agree that education needs many subjects looking at and modernising. But... The UK has combined Culture, Media and Sport with their digital agenda and it has suffered accordingly. In my view, the YAGI are there to give their opinions of how to help Neelie encourage and enable every citizen to be digital, not turn every citizen into an artist. (Although many of them may be both if they are talented...) My main observation is that it is very difficult to really engage with citizens because of bad infrastructure in many of our countries. Also our education systems don't use ICT to its true potential, and that has to remain the focus of our work. Otherwise we all go off at tangents and forget why we were asked to participate in this project. I think if you check there is probably an EU dept doing the same for Culture and the arts, and maybe at some point they should work together?
  • Dear Chris, Thank you for your reaction. Regarding the Digital Natives, you might look up the article by Bennett & Maton (2010) in the JCAL (See below). I truly hope that the EU will be able to synergize policy initiatives on the digital revolution and the arts. It would be a shame if such an opportunity was missed. Best, Edwin S. Bennett; K. Maton. (2010) 'Beyond the ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: Towards a More Nuanced Understanding of Students’ Technology Experiences.' In: Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 26-5: 321-332. []
  • dear edwin van meerkerk, thanks for pointing that out. you made me recall that in the historical story of computing job ads once included chess and piano playing. what one calls a  computer scientists didn't exist, instead there were  people with "stars in their eyes" (as alan kay liked to say), and people who simply changed profession in order to enter the field of  ict. these days seem to be gone, and too many  suggest  to follow/hand out/ask for a static curricula or an industry certificate. Curiosity and the ability to see and combine things differently, not according to rules (what did the people who set them up have in mind anyway), but a conversation – which means listening, not just talking to each other –  should come  in focus. we have been there already. we just forgot. mariann, observer of yag
  • Dear Neelie, The main problem is not so much in the opening up, but in the child rearing aspects. The problem is that the kids are only studying for tests and their parents (especially the lower class) think that schooling/learning is something that happens only in school. At least that's my perspective and we're trying to solve the problem here from that angle. Of course, there are other issues as well but it all starts with the basic and primary education. University will be easy after kids learn how to learn. Actually - this (where the problem is) would be really easy to find out. Test kids a year or two after high school and see if they remember the material. Obviously they do not know how to learn if you do not remember. (Plus bad teaching contributes to the problem as well.)
  • Dear Neelie, What is the European Commission going to do about the last move Adobe made, forcing their costumers to pay by month for the use of Adobe software. This implicates that instead of buying a software licence for a certain version (that you can use for ever!) you now have to pay every month. When you can't afford to pay for a month your cut of the software and are not even able to view your creations any more, because of the lack of software that works. This way you are forced to pay for life to keep on using Adobe software and they can dominate the whole "Designers, Audio, Video, Advertisement and Publishers World" as a monopolist, because they bought all the small software houses to add to their product line. If there are a lot of alternatives and big competition it would not be a problem, but like I said before they took care of that in the past to be sure that almost  no completion is left over. Hope you can look in to this! Sincerely, David Akinci
  • Do you really think she knows what is Adobe? Muhahahahahahaha. She will ask her advisers about it...
  • """Do you really think she knows what is Adobe? Muhahahahahahaha. She will ask her advisers about it…"" So what? And why the idiotic "muhahahahaha"? This is how policy works, people can't know everything, so they have advisers on various fields.
  • You have a point!  Here is some more explanation about the subject:
  • Small video that explains it all!
  • You have my vote and point for this think ;)
  • Great excuse that occur with Google Translate, currently have no other way out. Thank you for your understanding. Poštovni Mrs. Kroes Reporting from the Croatian - Society disabled Donji Miholjac - and the mission is to create a Telecentre for implementing ICT among young people, among employees but mostly among people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. For us it is a big task, a project that will go on the ESF or other fund Digital Agenda when Croatia joins the EU. Respected, whether you can pay for some kind of cooperation on the project and if not, please tell us someone. Thank you. Tomislav Dukmenić - Company President disabled Meljani Donji - Croatia -

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